We might not like the qualifying competition, but there’s a reason Ireland’s entries aren’t faring the way they used to at Eurovision: the competition has moved on.
Gone are the days of quaint ballads and cultural colour: the Eurovision of today is about overblown power pop, making as much noise as possible with the scenery, and pure unadulterated cheese.
In fact, it has been for many years, but Ireland has never quite caught on. Lesley Roy’s entry this year was a perfectly passable pop song, almost slightly quirky, but staged in a way that looked 25 years out of date next to the flash bangs of its brazen Euro-pop competitors, and stood out… well, not at all.
And Eurovision is all about standing out, as the Italian winners at the weekend showed. The only surprise left, perhaps, is in the panel judges tending to favour a particularly chilled track each time around (Switzerland’s rather dull but melodic ode this year), but the public wants what it wants. And what they want, a few drinks in on a Saturday night, is a sugary assault on the senses backed with fire, or energy, or a really silly moment with the lyrics.
Ireland doesn’t generally have that. We’ve done cheesy ballads well for years, but what we don’t do well is shameless exuberance, and until we change that, nothing Ireland sends to the contest is going to land. Our efforts just don’t fit with the program, be they puppet turkeys or sweet but forgettable little pop ditties. If we want to win – and I’ll be honest, I’m not sure we do – it’s time to dig into the depths and find something that packs a punch. Otherwise it’ll be a long Eurovision winter of discontent for the coming few years.